I had a partial bag of lentils leftover from making lamb and lentil soup some months ago, and decided they’d make a good fairly last minute dinner. Unlike beans, lentils don’t have to be soaked, so you can make them quickly.
Lentils and rice go together just as well as beans and rice, plus when you put them together you’ve got a complete protein. My mom always stressed this when I was a kid; it makes me laugh now. It’s a fairly quick, tasty dinner and it’s also pretty budget-friendly.
I looked at several other lentils and rice recipes and didn’t like any of them. Some were too bland and simplistic, while others involved way too much work and some hard-to-find ingredients.
I try to keep my recipes tasty, but not complicated (and with ingredients that are readily available). So, I did a bit of fudging, combining, and tweaking to get the results I wanted.
This lentils and rice recipe is fairly easy to prepare, and features a surprise ingredient you may not expect. It is, admittedly, not going to win awards for looks, but it did taste good!
Lentils and Rice Recipe Substitutions and Variations
- If you have the time, start by caramelizing the onions first; you’ll get a deeper, richer flavor
- Make it Lebanese with the caramelized onions, a fried egg, and cumin (full recipe)
- Or, go to Ethiopia with some cardamom, tomatoes, cumin, and red lentils (instead of brown)
More Easy Lentil Recipes
Carrots add sweetness, while the garlic, ginger, and garam masala add warm earthy spice. For heat, add red pepper flakes (or if you really like spicy food, go for red chili peppers).
Fragrant with cumin and garlic, and just a smidgen of heat from red pepper flakes. This meal is largely pantry and fridge staples, and takes only a few minutes to make.
Exactly one portion of soup. Made with leftover lamb, this is hearty and filling. Great for changeable weather. I used lamb broth (since I had it). Beef broth will work too.
Ham and lentil is, of course, a classic combination. This is simmered slowly. It’s also got kielbasa for extra salty, smoky, peppery flavor.